There is a scene in the promo film for Sesame Street where ad-men type Muppets in business suits meet around a large conference table debating potential names for the show. Ridiculous titles are suggested like the Two and Two Ain’t Five Show and the Itty-Bitty, Farm-and-City, Witty-Ditty, Nitty-Gritty, Dog-and-Kitty, Pretty-Little-Kiddie Show. Rowlf the Dog fires the entire group of Muppets and Kermit the Frog eventually comes up with the name Sesame Street. “You know, like ‘Open Sesame.’ It kind of gives the idea of a street where neat stuff happens,” he suggests. Read More
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson
Of the hundreds of celebrities who have appeared on Sesame Street, Jackie Robinson is one of the most notable. Workshop co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney met with Robinson in 1969 when she was working to build awareness and outreach prior to the show’s November premiere. Reaching out to Robinson and his connections made sense. Read More
Fire Safety, disaster recover, serious illness, healthy eating habits, and divorce. All of these topics have been covered as part of Sesame Street’s long and diverse history of outreach initiatives. When Sesame Street first aired in 1969, there were significant obstacles to Sesame Street reaching children in poor communities – the very children the show most wanted to reach. Meeting this challenge became the Workshop’s first outreach program. Read More
It is hard to imagine Sesame Street without the delightful animations that teach things like letters, numbers, emotions and problem solving. Animations have been a part of the show since the pilot episodes. But back in 1969, the idea of using a series of short animations to act like “commercials” for letters and numbers was a true innovation.
When Joan Ganz Cooney created her proposal for an educational television show, she envisioned borrowing the techniques used in making TV commercials to help teach counting and literacy. Joan and the producers knew that kids were attracted to commercials on TV. What they didn’t know was whether they could successfully create short commercial-like segments for the show that would actually teach to the curriculum. Read More
Ed. Note: Susan Tofte is Sesame Workshop’s Archivist.
Beginning with the iconic opening lines to “The Sesame Street Theme” that opened the first episode, music has always played a critical role in setting the educational and creative standards of Sesame Street. Early songs such as “I Love Trash,” “People In Your Neighborhood,” “Green,” “One of These Things,” and “Rubber Duckie” (just to name a few) have a memorable and timeless quality to them. Many have become classics in their own right.
Take the song “Rubber Duckie,” Ernie’s classic ode to bath time toys. Written by Jeff Moss, the song debuted on February 25, 1970 during Sesame Street’s first season. In the skit, Ernie, performed by Jim Henson, soaks in a bath and sings the song to his very favorite little pal. When the Workshop began releasing musical content from the show on records in the summer of 1970, “Rubber Duckie” was included on the very first album. The song went on to sell more than 1 million copies as a single and reached number 11 on the Billboard chart in 1971. It was nominated for The Best Recording for Children Grammy in 1970, losing out to The Sesame Street Book and Record, which itself contained the song. Since then, the song has been included on 21 different albums released by the Workshop. Read More
Ed. Note: Susan Tofte is Sesame Workshop’s archivist.
How would you update a classic? Take a treasured story from one era and spruce it up for a new century’s readers?
Sesame Workshop has produced over 1200 books in a variety of formats since the early 1970s. Part of the philosophy of our publishing group is the willingness to tell stories in whatever formats will attract and reach preschoolers. Animated book apps and e-books are the most recent formats in which Sesame Street characters have come to life. For the Workshop, an eagerness to create books in emerging digital formats is tempered by the need to balance innovation with our mission of education. It is a delicate balancing act, but one that the Workshop’s publishing group has pulled off time and time again. Read More